Veterans Day honors America’s troops

Published 3:33 pm Friday, November 11, 2011

Clanton's Roy Thrift was presented the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal during Friday's Veterans Day Celebration at the Chilton County Courthouse.

Veterans of past wars and those still fighting today where honored Friday at the Chilton County Veterans Day celebration.

The annual event included prayer, patriotic songs and remarks from guest speaker Elmer Harris.

Clanton resident Roy Thrift was presented the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal by Jennifer Kamerer, Veterans Service Officer. While presenting Thrift with his medal, Kamerer said the honor was “45 years past due.”

Also, Kara Hunt with Gentiva Home Health of Clanton gave every veteran in attendance a pin.

Jerry Grooms, commander of American Legion Post 6, welcomed those in attendance and a moment of silence was held for prisoners of war and soldiers missing in action.

Chilton County native and retired Alabama Power president and CEO Elmer Harris was the guest speaker Friday. Harris served in the United States Air Force and Alabama Air National Guard and is the Honorary Consul General of Japan.

“Freedom is not, it’s never been, nor will it ever be free,” Grooms said.

The nation’s colors were presented by National Guard Unit 440, after which Jill Cox lead the crowd in singing the “National Anthem” and Margaret Kemp Collins sang “God Bless America.”

Three-time Purple Heart recipient Lally Bates introduced Harris, describing him as a “hero, friend, fighter and leader.”

Harris, a Chilton County native who worked his way up to president and CEO of Alabama Power, spoke about his work in Japan and also visits to Normandy and Dachau concentration camp in Germany. Harris serves as the Honorary Consul General of Japan.

“America is great because it’s the land of free and the home of the brave,” Harris said.

Harris said Americans don’t mind fighting for something they believe in but warned of the dangers of politics affecting military strategy.

“Veterans know how to win wars,” Harris said. “Veterans always get the job done. They know how to win as long as the politicians don’t make the wrong decisions.”

The program concluded with a benediction by Ocie Williams and the playing of “Taps.”

“This would not be the great nation it is if men and women had not donned the uniform and gave their all,” Williams said before his closing prayer.

The Veterans’ Day Celebration is sponsored by the following Chilton County veterans organizations: Disabled American Veterans Chapter 33, Clanton Veterans of Foreign Wars 3193, American Legion Post 6 and American Legion Post 343.